The Indonesian government will more than double the import quota for fruits and vegetables in 2014 to try and meet a surge in domestic demand, according to a report in the Jakarta Post. Bachrul Chairi, director-general for foreign trade at the Trade Ministry (pictured), said the government would allow up to 600,000 tonnes of 17 horticultural products including apples, mangoes, citrus and potatoes to be imported in the first half of the year, up from 260,000 tonnes in the same period of 2013. As of 30 December 2013, importers had requested permits to import a total of 817,250 tonnes.
“We will be strict with importers,” Bachrul said. “They must realise at least 80 per cent of their approved import volumes, otherwise we will revoke their permits.”
The government decided to ease import restrictions following concerns that limited domestic supplies were contributing to rising inflation. Bachrul said the move would allow the government to test the market mechanism.
However, Gun Soetopo, secretary-general of the National Horticulture Council, argued that raising the quota should be a temporary measure or it risked damaging local farmers. He claimed that instead of importing raw food the government should seek to promote seed imports in a bid to boost domestic production.
“The trend will continue in the coming years with the country importing higher volumes of horticulture products unless the domestic supply problem is addressed,” he said.